Monday, December 16, 2013

Don't Postpone Joy...lessons in Life from great Artists

"There are two reasons why I am in show business and I am standing on both of them."
-Betty Grable

Hi there!
"Don't postpone joy"...Those words are uttered by Tony Award nominated actress Anita Gillette in her Master Class of a show that she performed last week (and again tonight and tomorrow night) at The Metropolitan Room.
Those of us who were in attendance either on Monday night or Tuesday night of last week know exactly what a joyous treat it was to see a great entertainer regale an audience in a show that seemed like a mere moment.
I was at Anita's show on Tuesday night having been at Donna McKechnie's new show on Monday night (joined by Jerry Mitchell and singers on the night I attended).
From the moment that Donna hit the stage with the Hostess With the Mostess, she certainly was. What has drawn me to Anita and Donna and other great entertainers over the years is
Photo: Sandi Durrell
a joy in their work that cannot be self-contained.
DON'T POSTPONE JOY keeps resonating with me over and over. You'll have to see the show to see where this gem of a life philosophy came from. That was a major message in Anita's show but it applies to both shows.
If there is one overriding goal of this blog it is this: to bring a clarity to how these artists approach their work on a daily basis, and over their lifetimes.

Anita's current show IS a delightful evening of music and memories as she takes an intimate, touching, and hilarious look behind the scenes from Broadway to Hollywood in her autobiographical show.
I personally feel that Anita's voice is under rated Broadway gold. Anita Gillette is part of the very foundation of the Broadway we enjoy today. How does one choose who/what is a star?
It has been an incredible journey from her first television appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1963.
She joined the cast of The Edge of Night in 1967, leaving the next year. Gillette's biggest exposure on a national scale came as a celebrity guest on various New York City-based game shows such as What's My Line?, Match Game, and on the various Pyramid series produced by
Anita in Me and the Chimp
Goodson-Todman and Bob Stewart.
Gillette's roles in the 1970s included the short-lived series Me and The Chimp with Ted Bessell and Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice with a then-unknown Robert Urich and a young Jodie Foster.  She also appeared in Norman Lear's All That Glitters.
The 1980s marked Gillette's transition from Broadway and television into that of a character film actress.

Prior to this transition, she had sizeable television roles as Nancy Baxter on the of the national run of The Baxters, Quincy's second wife Dr. W. Emily Hanover on the last season of Quincy M.E. (having previously portrayed his deceased first wife Helen Quincy in a flashback), and a role on Search for Tomorrow at the end of that series' long run, as well as the early David Chase series Almost Grown.
 After the end of Search for Tomorrow in late 1986, and appearing with Robert Reed and Bert Convy on Super Password, Gillette transitioned to film with a variety of notable roles such as that of Mona in 1987's Moonstruck. Many of these roles have had her as an on-screen mother to characters played by notable actors such as Jennifer Aniston's mother in She's The One, Mary-Louise Parker's mother in Boys On The Side, Bill Murray's mother in Larger Than Life, Jack Black's mother in Bob Roberts, and the mother of Bobby Cannavale's love interest in The Guru. Her return to television in 2000s short-lived Normal, Ohio had her playing the mother of John Goodman's character (coincidentally with fellow former game show regular Orson Bean as her on-screen husband).

In the 1990s, Gillette starred in two Hallmark Hall of Fame movies, The Summer of Ben Tyler with James Woods and A Christmas Memory with Patty Duke. In 2004, she appeared as Miss Mitzi, the lonely alcoholic owner of a struggling dance studio in Shall We Dance? opposite Richard Gere, Jennifer Lopez and Susan Sarandon.

Anita Gillette AND Donna McKechnie HAD to go into show business. They also did it the right way. They earned it. They both have had ups and downs in careers that were not always on a linear course. They are both, as well as Jerry Mitchell, engaging.

They also have built and sustained lasting relationships in their careers.Last evening, I saw the amazing Judi Dench in Philomena. There is a moment in the film in which Philomena and Martin Sixsmith, played by Steve Coogan are having breakfast in a Washington DC restaurant. I won't
with Donna at The Bistro Awards a few years ago
give away what happens in that scene because it is a pivotal one in the plot.
However, also in that scene, Sixsmith dismisses and is rude to a waitress.

How many times have I seen that happen! I've even had people that I've been dining with do that on more than one occasion.
Philomena tells him there is no reason to be rude to anyone. The people we are rude to are the very people we meet on the way down.

He, of all people, should think about that. You'll have to see the movie to get the full implication of that line.
When I was in high school, I read Joan Crawford's book, My Way of Life. In her book, she says be nice to everyone you encounter.
"The person sweeping the floor today is running the studio tomorrow."
I never forgot that. It jumped out at me like a neon sign. A friend of mine when a step further. He said, "The person running the studio is sweeping the floor tomorrow." Truer words were never spoken.
I became familiar with Anita Gillette and Donna McKechnie in the seventies.
 I became familiar with Donna when the album of A Chorus Line came out. I couldn't get enough of listening to that album over and over.
I was thrilled that the show was still running when I came to New York in 1979.

What a thrill it was to have Anita sitting in the audience of one of my shows years later!

Another thrill for me, although the circumstances were heartbreaking, was doing a benefit with Donna a few weeks after 9/11.
How does one define stardom? Go see Anita either tonight or tomorrow night at The Metropolitan Room and you will see that definition personified. From the moment, Anita hits the stage with her I Can't Be Bothered Now/Happy Go Lucky, she owns everyone in the room and her surroundings.
I felt the same thing with Donna McKechnie's latest outing. Donna is bringing a talk show/variety format to Birdland in what will hopefully be at least once a month.How does one quantify greatness? Donna;s show attempts to answer that question.
The format features a great artist of the theater scene. It is audience-focused.
In other words, her aim is to please. Whether you are in the theater, theater knowledgeable, or just there to be entertained, this show is for you. For her first outing, her guest was Jerry Mitchell. Originally, this show was to kick off the New Year in January 2014. However, due to Jerry's very busy schedule. He will be mounting a production of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels in London's West End next month.
Donna has come up with a great formula. She was/is wise to open with a great song. After all, we/audiences desire her to do what she does brilliantly...entertain.
Her goal is to show audiences these giants of the theater scene that most of us know...or do we?

With Jerry, it was great to get a trajectory of his career. How he got from Detroit to being one of the hardest working choreographer/directors on Broadway. I remember the first time I saw Jerry dancing on a drum in Tommy Tune's Will Rogers Follies. Who could ever forget that?
Mitchell, sporting the original revealing red-white-and-blue “Indian of the Dawn” costume he wore in The Will Rogers Follies
Mitchell's early Broadway credits in addition to The Will Rogers Follies included revivals of Brigadoon and On Your Toes.
Neither Anita, Donna, Jerry, or even myself, for that matter, are born New Yorkers. We all gravitated to a
calling that was greater than all of us.

Gillette was born Anita Luebben in Baltimore, Maryland, the daughter of Juanita (née Wayland) and John Alfred Luebben.Raised in suburban Rossville, she graduated from Kenwood High School.Gillette studied at the Peabody Conservatory and made her Broadway debut in Gypsy in 1959. Additional Broadway credits include Carnival!, All American, Mr. President, Kelly, Jimmy, Guys and Dolls, Don't Drink the Water, Cabaret, They're Playing Our Song, Brighton Beach Memoirs, and Chapter Two, for which she was nominated for the Tony for Best Actress in a Play. She received the 1960 Theatre World Award for her performance in Russell Patterson's Sketchbook. In 2012, she played Rose Fitzgerald (Mom) in Christmas with the Fitzgeralds, written, directed and starring Edward Burns.

McKechnie was born in Pontiac, Michigan where she began ballet classes at age five. Her earliest influence was the classic British ballet film The Red Shoes (1948), which prompted her, at age eight, to plan a career as a ballerina. She studied for many years at the Rose Marie Floyd School of Dance in Royal Oak. Despite her parents' strong misgivings, she moved to New York City when she was 17. Rejected after an audition for the American Ballet Theatre, she found employment in the corps de ballet at Radio City Music Hall but walked off the job on the day of dress rehearsal to do summer stock at the Carousel Theatre in Framingham, Massachusetts.
After doing a Welch's Grape Juice commercial and the first L'eggs stockings commercial, she was cast in a touring company of West Side Story. In 1961, she made her Broadway debut in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, where she met choreographer Bob Fosse and his wife, Gwen Verdon. A stint in a Philadelphia production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (as Philia) was followed by the NBC music series Hullabaloo, where she was a featured dancer and met Michael Bennett, who became a guiding force in her life and career.
She became known for her professional and personal relationship with choreographer Michael Bennett, with whom she collaborated on her most noted role, "Cassie" from the musical A Chorus Line, for which she earned the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical in 1976. She is also known for playing Amanda Harris/Olivia Corey on the Gothic soap opera, Dark Shadows from 1969 to 1970.
She also appeared as Philia in the national tour of Forum, starring Jerry Lester (Pseudolus), with Paul Hartman (Senex), Erik Rhodes (Marcus Lycus), Arnold Stang (Hysterium) and Edward Everett Horton (Erronius), produced by Martin Tahse.
In April, 1968, McKechnie was back on Broadway in the short-lived musical version of Leo Rosten's collection of short stories The Education of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N, which led to a featured role in Burt Bacharach and Hal David's Promises, Promises, choreographed by Bennett.
Along with Baayork Lee and Margo Sappington, she danced in one of Broadway's most famous numbers, Turkey Lurkey Time. It was here that she first attracted notice from critics and theatergoers alike. This was followed by a role in the touring company of Call Me Madam, starring Ethel Merman.

Bennett showcased McKechnie again in Stephen Sondheim's Company (1970), where she danced Tick-Tock. After leaving the Broadway cast, she reprised her role in the Los Angeles and London companies, and also toured in the 1971 revival of On the Town (as Ivy). In March 1973, she choreographed and performed in the highly acclaimed one-night-only concert Sondheim: A Musical Tribute at the Shubert Theatre in New York. In 1974, she co-starred with Richard Kiley and Bob Fosse in the unsuccessful musical film version of the classic The Little Prince.
Jerry was born in Paw Paw, Michigan and later moved to St. Louis where he pursued his acting, dancing and directing career in theatre. He graduated from the Fine Arts college at Webster University in St. Louis. Today, Mitchell resides in New York City and St. Louis.
(Huge portions of this blog are from Wikipedia)
To learn more, see Anita Gillette tonight at The Metropolitan Room.
Keep checking Birdland's website for Donna's next show.
Read more about Jerry Mitchell.

Thank you ALL of the artists mentioned in this blog for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give!

 With grateful XOXOXs ,

Check out my site celebrating the FIRST Fifty years of  Hello, Dolly!

I desire this to be a definitive account of Hello, Dolly!  If any of you reading this have appeared in any production of Dolly, I'm interested in speaking with you!

If you have anything to add or share, please contact me at


Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!    

Thank you, to all the mentioned in this blog!

Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!

I hope you can join us February 16th in NYC as we celebrate Eileen Fulton to benefit Habitat For Humanity! Would LOVE to see you! Bring friends! It’s going to be star-studded party!

With grateful XOXOXs for your support!
Richard Skipper 845-365-0720

Keeping Entertainment LIVE!
Richard Skipper Celebrates


Richard Skipper,


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Tale of Two Palaces

Broadway’s BT McNicholl New Producing Artistic Director.
Stamford’s Palace Theatre recently named Broadway’s BT McNicholl New Producing Artistic Director.

The 1,580-seat Palace Theatre is dedicated to performing arts of all genres - music, dance, theater and comedy. In addition to hosting world-renowned performers in each of those fields, The Palace partners with arts organizations like the Stamford Symphony and Connecticut Ballet for their performances.

Stepping into a position originally held by legendary impresario Alexander H. Cohen (founder of the Tony Awards telecast), McNicholl will oversee productions at the historic 1927 Palace and a soon-to-be-completed Off-Broadway-sized playhouse.
"After talking with Mike Nichols, James Lapine and other theatrical luminaries — all of whom spoke highly of BT’s artistry and professionalism — we felt he would be a perfect match for the organization’s bold new initiatives,” said Stamford Center for the Arts and Palace Board Chair Mike Widland.

McNicholl has had a prolific career as director and writer in the U.S. and internationally.

Winner of the Australian “Tony” for Best Direction, he has also staged record-setting runs in Paris and Madrid.

A BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.) Award winning writer, McNicholl’s work with the Roundabout, MGM, Shubert Organization, O’Neill Theatre Center as well as hit productions for The Goodspeed Opera House, Walnut Street Theatre and others have poised him for success on this new venture.

The Palace is dedicated to providing exciting entertainment that enriches the cultural, educational, economic and social life of the community.
When Judy Garland sang that "you haven't made it until you've played the Palace", she was singing of another Palace, the famed Palace Theater on Broadway.

The Palace Theatre is a Broadway theatre located at 1564 Broadway (at West 47th Street) in midtown Manhattan, New York City. From 1913 through about 1929, the Palace attained legendary status among vaudeville performers as the flagship of the monopolistic Keith - Albee organization, and the most desired booking in the country. Designed by Milwaukee architects Kirchoff and Rose, the 1,740-seat theatre was funded by Martin Beck, a vaudeville entrepreneur based in San Francisco, in an attempt to challenge Keith-Albee's east-coast monopoly. Albee in turn demanded that Beck turn over three-quarters ownership to use acts from the Keith circuit. Beck took the deal, and was in charge of the booking.

When the theater finally opened on March 24, 1913 with headliner Ed Wynn, it was not an instant success. It lost money for months.

The theater is notorious, too, for its enormous and difficult-to-sell second balcony in which nearly every seat has an obstructed view. Soon, though, the Palace became the premiere venue of the Keith-Albee circuit.

The theater owner Albee sometimes traded on the performers' desire for this goal by forcing acts to take a pay cut for the privilege. Even so, to "play the Palace" meant that an entertainer had reached the pinnacle of his vaudeville career.

Three Vaudevillians: Judy Garland, Jack Haley, Ray Bolger ALL Played The Palace
Actor Jack Haley and actress Lois Smith in 1977

Performer Jack Haley, Judy Garland's Tin Man, wrote:
"Only a vaudevillian who has trod its stage can really tell you about it... only a performer can describe theanxieties, the joys, the anticipation, and the exultation of a week's engagement at the Palace.

The walk through the iron gate on 47th Street through the courtyard to the stage door, was the cum laude walk to a show business diploma. A feeling of ecstasy came with the knowledge that this was the Palace, the epitome of the more than 15,000 vaudeville theaters in America, and the realization that you have been selected to play it.
Of all the thousands upon thousands of vaudeville performers in the business, you are there. This was a dream fulfilled; this was the pinnacle of Variety success."

With the Great Depression came a rise in the popularity of film and radio, and vaudeville began its decline. The transformation of all of Keith-Albee-Orpheum's vaudeville houses into movie houses through a merger with RCA and the Film Booking Office at the hands of Joseph P. Kennedy in 1929, was a major blow but did allow many to see their favorite radio performers of the day on the Palace stage.

The Palace Theatre, circa 1920

In 1929 the two-a-day Palace shows were increased to three. By 1932, the Palace moved to four shows a day and lowered its admission price.

In November of that year, it was re branded the "RKO Palace" and converted to a cinema.

Appearing on the closing bill when the venue ended its stage policy were Nick Lucas and Hal Le Roy.

There was a brief return to a live revue format in 1936, when Broadway producer Nils Granlund staged a series of variety shows beginning with Broadway Heat Wave featuring female orchestra leader Rita Rio. Finally in 1957 the Palace, succumbing to the popularity of television, gave up stage presentations with its films and began a straight film policy, beginning with James Cagney starring in A Man of A Thousand Faces.

The RKO Picture Citizen Kane had its world premiere at the theatre on May 1, 1941.

In the early 1950's the theater was in grave danger of being demolished.

Beginning in 1949 under Sol Schwartz, the refurbished RKO Palace tried to single-handedly revive vaudeville, with a slate of eight acts before a feature film. It attracted acts like Frank Sinatra, Jerry Lewis, Danny Kaye, Lauritz Melchior, Betty Hutton, and Harry Belafonte.

Judy Garland staged a record-breaking 19-week comeback here in October 1951.

While the shows were successful, they did not lead to a revival of the format. (No Copyright infringement intended. Source: Wikipedia)

As if it was a perfect storm on the horizon, Judy Garland's career was considered washed up after she was fired from MGM after years of quality movie making. After leaving MGM, Judy met, fell in love, and eventually married tough talking Sid Luft. He came up with the bright idea of taking Judy back to her roots, as a stage entertainer...with a major touch of vaudeville. She had toured the vaudeville circuit as part of the Gumm Sisters (her family name) before she became Judy Garland.

Luft first put her on the stage at the London Palladium to huge audience and critical acclaim.

Her next stop would be the Palace Theater on Broadway.

She would eventually return for two more engagements. In 1965, the Nederlander Organization purchased the Palace from RKO Theatres.On January 29, 1966, the Palace reopened as a legitimate theatre with the original production of the musical Sweet Charity, although for a period of time it showed films and presented concert performances by Bette Midler, Liza Minnelli, Josephine Baker, Eddie Fisher, Shirley MacLaine, Diana Ross, Vikki Carr, and the like between theatrical engagements.
Liza Minnelli as Sally Bowles in Cabaret

I have seen many shows there over the years including Liza in two shows.. The very first Broadway show I saw was at The Palace.

It was the 1979 Broadway revival of Oklahoma! starring Christine Andreas and Laurence Guittard.
Currently Annie is finishing its run there.(It closes January 5th, 2014). In the late 1980s, a towering hotel was built above the theater, cantilevered over the auditorium; today, the theater is practically invisible behind an enormous wall of billboards and under the skyscraper, and only the marquee is visible. The Palace Theater was part of a circuit of theaters in major cities around the country the Palace Theater in Stamford is another Palace that I love. Running into my dear friend, Lynn DiMenna recently, she very excitedly had news to share with me about the future of the theater.

Lynn has been on the theater’s board and their gala chairman for five years.

Stamford’s Palace Theatre, with a rich and storied tradition of presenting the best in regional arts and entertainment, now embarks on its next exciting chapter with the appointment of new Producing Artistic Director, BT McNicholl.

I went to the Palace theater in Stamford last year to see the amazing Marilyn Maye and Billy Stritch.
Lynn produced that show, coupling it with a master class by Ms Maye. She has also produced a Broadway/Cabaret/Jazz Series this year called Perfect Pairs at The Palace in which two artists with different styles come together for what has already proven to be three very successful evenings. Marilyn Maye and Houston Person will close the series on January 22, 2014 and the series will continue in the fall of 2014.
Cabaret legend, Marilyn Maye, and tenor sax great Houston Person

Under the visionary direction of BT  McNicholl, a veteran of the Broadway theater community, the Palace intends to escalate the breadth and depth of its programming for Stamford and surrounding areas.

Lynn and I sat down to discuss the theater...where it has been, where it is, and where she envisions its future with McNicholl at the helm.

It truly is a family love fest with the Palace Theater.
Ray Giallongo, Cheryl Palmer, John DiMenna, Lynn DiMenna

Lynn's husband, John, is a major property owner in downtown Stamford, most specifically 1 Atlantic Street, the office building on the corner of Broad and Atlantic.
His company, Seaboard Properties, owns The Courtyard Marriott nearby and is presently building a new Residence Inn right next to the Palace Theater. Given this part of his portfolio, what happens at The Palace Theater impacts his properties rather directly.
Lynn and her daughter, Meredith, both performers themselves, went on the board of the Stamford Center for the Arts organization that houses The Palace Theater venue about five years ago bringing with them a passion for the performing arts in general. Lynn's husband came on board a few years later becoming the president of the board only recently. For their parts, it has been a collaborative effort. He has the contacts in Stamford. Lynn and Meredith have the energy, the ideas, and the New York/Connecticut musical community contacts.
The theater has had many ups and downs since the beginning with Alexander Cohen at the helm. The
Alexander H. Cohen
previous executive director had a "vision" that did not connect with many on the board.

She was replaced with the man who had been the operations manager at the Stamford Center for the Arts for a very long time. He knew the facility very well but recognized that they needed help with programming.

Once the need for an artistic director was discussed, a search  committee was put in place. Several months into that process, something fortuitous happened to Lynn on the corner of 54th Street and 8th in NYC on her way to see Marilyn Maye at 54 Below.

She recognized BT McNicholl from behind! He was so talented in high school that he also performed with adults in local community theater productions. That was how Lynn got to know him and she kept a close eye on him over the years.
Lo and behold, and thanks to the internet and the grapevine, she heard he was involved in Spamalot and Billy Elliot and Cabaret all on Broadway and that he had been working with Mike Nichols on both coasts.
Having good facial recognition (even from behind!), when she saw BT standing on 54th Street, she called out to him, and needless to say he was taken aback!
She quickly told him that there might be an ideal position for him at The Palace Theater in Stamford. His eyes widened and, from that moment on, he passed through the interview and vetting process with flying colors.
He has now officially taken over as the producing artistic director along with Mike Moran who is the managing executive director.
They will share their responsibilities and both will report to the board. Since they have entirely two different areas of expertise, they both recognize that working together will ultimately lead to the greatest success for The Palace.  
Billy Elliot Anniversary – Stephen Daldry – B.T. McNicholl

BT has a youthful enthusiasm that is a welcome asset to the board. He is used to the 24/7 kind of schedule that goes along with a position like this and his first "coup" was to secure Jerry Seinfeld for this year’s gala on April 4th. Lynn will be its’ chairman for the fifth year in a row. Past entertainers have included Dave Brubeck, Liza Minnelli, Diana Ross, and last year’s Steve Martin and Edie Brickell. Seinfeld is everything they could hope for with a gala of this magnitude within BT's first year as artistic director.

with Maureen Moore
Suffice to say, The Palace Theater’s previous programming did not always meet the expectations for most on the board and/or the mission of the venue. As a result, the theater was not open as often as it needed to be and was certainly not taking full advantage of a thriving downtown Stamford. One of the biggest challenges facing all arts venues in the 21st century is building and maintaining an audience when there are SO MANY other entertainment OPTIONS to choose from.
The Palace Theater in Stamford is no exception. The bottom line is that programming is needed that people will come to and support. In Fairfield County and lower Connecticut, audiences do have a lot of options.
The Palace Theater needs to make sure that they provide dazzling programming to compete with all these other theaters and maintain a consistency in those program offerings with smaller series' that appeal to a broader community, not only to Stamford but also to the smaller towns around, which is where the cabaret  series comes in. It's an older audience but it's a very vital audience.
Michael O'Donnell (Associate Director, Co-Choreographer), Andrea Christine Leigh (Co-Choreographer), BT McNicholl (Director) and Joe Masteroff. Photo by Bobby Munster

As mentioned earlier, Lynn's “baby” is this cabaret series called Perfect Pairs at The Palace. The theater’s board has moved beyond some of the previous obstacles and his been extremely supportive of her efforts to bring the best performers from New York to Stamford for local audiences to enjoy.

Mike Moran, in particular, has helped to create an intimate “club atmosphere” on the Harman Stage
Christine Pedi recently played Stamford's Palace
where the audience can feel “up, close and personal” with the performers. With free parking, prix fixe dinners at area restaurants, reasonable ticket prices and a complimentary martini, it’s one of the best deals in town!
He has also tried to tap into various other sectors of the community that were not being served. Since it is a 1500 seat theater and not always easy to fill, one of the goals has been to utilize the many nooks and crannies of the theater for smaller intimate events. A new series called Studio 61 has also recently been launched, named after the address 61 Atlantic Street.

This will present the younger local artists in the area in a cabaret style atmosphere. It will offer a hipper look and a hipper logo.
Audiences will be treated to a relatively inexpensive ticket. There are so many artists in the area. They are ready to be heard but until now have had no place to be heard.
That will fill a huge need. This series is already doing very well.

At present, there is a very strong board in place and a sense of enthusiasm and optimism for the future. That said, every performing arts center, no question, struggles with the same issues. The close proximity of The Palace Theater to New York has also been considered a challenge but BT sees it very differently. He sees it as an advantage and as an opportunity. He has a very broad vision, having worked in ALL areas of entertainment including for the Disney Corporation. According to BT, these stages will be teeming with artists engaged in large productions, small plays and new works that will continually entertain, engage and enlighten their audiences.

He has "been there, done that" says Lynn, so she is mindful of that song, "How you gonna keep them down on the farm..." questioning further…”Why would he want to come back to Stamford?” The answer… he grew up going to events at The Palace Theater with his family and has a great love for its magnificent space and it’s potential as a major, regional performing arts center.

BT lives in Manhattan. He also has a home in Garrison, New York, where portions of Hello, Dolly were filmed. He will be commuting back and forth to Stamford. Fortunately, he is used to long hours and has a work ethic that is a requirement for the position he holds. It’s one more reason why everyone is so excited to have him on the SCA team!

There is a Yiddish expression "beshert" which means “meant to be.”
Since it is quite rare to find in an artistic director someone who operates and understands both sides of running a performing arts organization, "the bottom line" along with an equally strong creative vision, for Lynn, bumping into BT was a “beshert” moment indeed! To her, BT and Mike, represent one more “perfect pair” and, as far as she’s concerned, as the other song goes…”who could ask for anything more?”

Thank you all of the artists mentioned in this blog for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give! Thank you Lynn DiMenna and Wikipedia and for the contents of this blog. 

 With grateful XOXOXs ,

Check out my site celebrating Hello, Dolly!
Courtesy: Margo Feiden Gallery

I desire this to be the definitive Hello, Dolly!  If any of you reading this have appeared in any production of Dolly, I'm interested in speaking with you!

If you have anything to add or share, please contact me at


Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!    

Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!

I hope you can join us February 16th in NYC as we celebrate Eileen Fulton to benefit Habitat For Humanity! Would LOVE to see you! Bring friends! It’s going to be star-studded party!
With grateful XOXOXs for your support!
Richard Skipper 845-365-0720

Keeping Entertainment LIVE!
Richard Skipper Celebrates

Richard Skipper,